“We want you to know EPA is not proposing any changes to the standards at this time,” said Jessica Wieder of EPA’s Office of Radiation. “We’ve issued theANPR just to solicit public input and information early as we evaluate whether the standards need to be changed at all.”
EPA has concerns about several other deficiencies in the current rule, Littleton said, including:
“In addition to finding groundwater contamination in the vicinity of several nuclear power plants, radioactive contaminants including uranium, strontium, and cesium have been found in groundwater in other uranium fuel cycle facilities,” Littleton said. “These environmental problems could linger on long past the operational phase of these facilities.”
Spent Fuel Storage: When the 1977 rule was written, regulators expected used fuel rods to be stored at nuclear plants for no more than 18 months before being transported to reprocessing plants or a long-term waste depository. Now regulators expect fuel rods to continue to accumulate in increasingly crowded conditions at power plants until at least 2050.
“Since these wastes are stored for much longer duration, there’s a possibility that these wastes could contribute to higher public doses,” Littleton said. ”The agency believes that storage is a covered activity, but if we revise it could be prudent to state that the rule is applicable to long-term storage on site.”
Radionuclides: Because regulators in 1977 expected spent fuel to be reprocessed, the rule specifically restricts radionuclides likely to be emitted during reprocessing: krypton-85, iodine-129, plutonium-238 and other alpha emitters. The U.S. no longer considers reprocessing viable for most existing spent fuel…….
Alternative Technologies: The 1977 rule applies only to the uranium fuel cycle, so it does not apply to facilities that use other fuels, like thorium, and it may not be suited to emerging technologies like small modular reactors, Littleton said.
“Do small modular reactors pose unique environmental considerations, or do existing limits adequately address concerns with small modular reactors?”
The EPA is collecting public comments on the proposed rule revision until Aug. 3. The public may submit comments at regulations.gov.
Earth Focus Episode 55 – Nuclear Insurance: America Goes Naked
Earth Focus Episode 55 – Nuclear Insurance: America Goes Naked
Fukushima Crisis Total Cost $1 To $10 TRILLION Dollars; via A Green Road
The Billionaire War Heats Up Slate.com 17 July 14 The richest people in America are turning on one another—over climate change.By Eric Holthaus Move over, Al Gore. There’s a new wealthy environmentalist whom conservatives love to hate. If you haven’t heard of him yet, meet Tom Steyer…….In a biographical post on his super PAC’s website labeled “accountability,” Steyer says “climate change has not always been on my radar.” In 2012, after founding Farallon Capital Management and running it for more than 25 years (amassing a billion-dollar fortune in the process), he left his post to work on global warming full time.
As the Washington Post reported last year, to reduce his footprint (which is probably still pretty big), Steyer chooses to take the red eye. He doesn’t shy away from the occasional environmental campaign rally, but he’s not about to guilt trip you for not switching out your light bulbs, either. His target is much bigger: the American political process itself.
In response to his efforts to make global warming a major political issue in the runup to the 2014 midterm elections,
Climate change challenge tSteyer is fast drawing the ire of the political landscape’s resident oil-money billionaires, the Koch brothers. Their talking point is simple: Tom Steyer is one of us, so lefties should demonize him, too. As Slate’s David Weigel wrote, “Republicans are trying to Koch-ify Tom Steyer in just five or six months.”
Ever since February, when Steyer announced a $100 million campaign to fight climate change, critics have been eager to pick at anything that may tarnish his green label. Steyer’s campaign—$50 million of his own, and $50 million from his super PAC, NextGen Climate—is primarily meant to encourage action on global warming……….
teyer doesn’t dispute that he “was for coal before he was against it.” In an op-ed in Politico on Monday, Steyer explained his about-face from hedge fund capitalist to environmental crusader, in an attempt to set the record straight:
[I]t’s true—Farallon did make fossil fuel investments under my watch. But the more I learned about the energy and climate problems we currently face, the more I realized I had to change my life. I concluded that the best way to align my work with my beliefs was to make a real change—leaving my role managing a firm with investments across the industrial spectrum, and instead joining in the global effort to find a solution to climate change once and for all.
Steyer says that he’s completely divested his personal holdings from the fossil fuel industry as of June 30 though certainly that won’t stop the right from claiming that he’s being hypocritical. But that’s missing the point. It’s not Steyer’s dollars (or even the source of those dollars) that will make the biggest difference but his example of putting his money where his mouth is. In his Politico piece, he offers an incredibly personal description of his epiphany and his decision to dedicate himself to tackling global warming on behalf of his children’s generation. Steyer has done something that’s still far too unusual: He’s admitting he was wrong on climate change and that he wants to rectify it. It’s that kind of honesty that we’ll all need to embrace if we’re to face the steep climb of remaking the global economy into one that isn’t tied to carbon with a full head of steam (or, electrons, as the case may be).
Meanwhile, in a world where money defines political clout, most billionaires aren’t as eager to ruffle the status quo. The few who are stand out. Last month, Steyer joined billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and near-billionaire former Goldman Sachs CEO and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to release a high-profile report on the economic effects of climate change in the United States. That report called for the leaders of the business community to address the growing specter of climate change out of their own self-interest: to avoid economic risk. With their billions in annual revenue as part of the fossil fuel industry, the Koch brothers may want to take note……….http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/07/tom_steyer_koch_brothers_billionaires_are_battling_over_climate_change.html
Operator of New Mexico nuclear dump reaped $1.9 million bonus after underground truck fire http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/07/20/operator-new-mexico-nuclear-dump-reaped-1-million-bonus-after-underground-truck/ CARLSBAD, N.M. – The contractor that operates the federal government’s underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico received a $1.9 million bonus just five days after an underground truck fire closed the facility.
The Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1nLfPmq) Sunday that the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Nuclear Waste Partnership the funds based on an “excellent” job performance in maintaining the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.
Some observers say last February’s fire and the radiation leak that followed nine days later show the contractor failed at its job.
Initial probes by federal regulators into both incidents identified a host of management and safety shortcomings.
The Department of Energy says it is not considering revising or terminating its contract with Nuclear Waste Partnership.
The company has a contract to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant through 2017.
Fox: Fukushima radioactive material still being found in U.S. soil — Japan Gov’t: The disaster “posed radiation threat to human society”… In 4 days “detectable all across northern hemisphere” — Denmark: Fukushima clearly had widespread consequences, not limited to borders (VIDEOS) http://enenews.com/fox-fukushima-radioactive-material-found-arizona-soil-japan-govt-fukushima-release-posed-radiation-threat-human-society-detectable-all-across-northern-hemisphere-4-days-denmark-fukushima-widespr
Danish Emergency Management Agency’s Carsten Israelson, Nordic Nuclear Safety Research’s 2013 Fukushima seminar (at 4:15 in): The accident in Fukushima… clearly showed that there are consequences that are widespread, and is not limited to borders… Nuclear accidents do happen! Nuclear accidents will likely have widespread consequences – for all of us. >> Watch presentation hereNational Institute of Radiological Sciences (Japan), March 3, 2014: The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident led to the release of large amounts of radionuclides into the environment. [...] The released radioactive materials posed radiation threat to human society. Thus, source identification of radioactive contamination and long-term environmental behavior of released radioactive materials are important issues of study after the FDNPP accident.
Japan Atomic Energy Agency & University of Tokyo, Apr. 10, 2014: By March 15, traces from the accident in Fukushima were detectable all across the northern hemisphere. By April 13, the associated radioactivity had spread to the southern hemisphere of the Asia-Pacific region and was clearly detectable at CTBT IMS stations located in Australia, Fiji, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.
Fox 10 News — Phoenix, AZ, July 15, 2014: [Aubrey Godwin, director of Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency] says radioactive material can still be found in Arizona soil from nuclear weapons testing in the 50′s and from Fukushima’s nuclear disaster in 2011. Despite that Godwin says there is no health concern.
In the article, a team of researchers led by Michael Rayo, PhD, of Ohio State University described their project to implement new scanning protocols to reduce radiation dose. The group relied on commercially available tools accessible to most U.S. hospitals, such as iterative reconstruction, tube current modulation, and weight-based variable kV.
While taking into account an overall reduction in CT utilization that occurred during the same time period, the researchers calculated that their efforts would lead to a 63% reduction in cancers induced by the CT scans, based on widely accepted data. If the same scenario were repeated widely around the U.S., it could offer a way out of the morass that has engulfed radiology since the radiation dose controversy erupted in 2007 (JACR, July 2014, Vol. 11:7, pp. 703-708).
Rising volume and radiation dose
CT utilization grew steadily in the U.S. from 1998 through 2008, the authors noted. But in 2007, research studies began appearing that raised the specter that thousands of cancers could be caused by medical imaging exams, in particular CT studies. One study postulated that as many as 2% of all cancers in the U.S. could be caused by exposure to CT radiation, while another estimated that some 29,000 cancers could be caused annually by CT use.
The findings have spurred members of the radiology community to find ways to reduce exposure to medical radiation, with two main avenues being pursued: The first includes efforts such as Choosing Wisely, which reduces exposure by eliminating unnecessary imaging exams, while the second involves developing protocols to reduce the radiation dose used in appropriate exams.
Rayo and colleagues decided to study the topic to determine the impact on radiation dose at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, a tertiary-care facility in Columbus. They felt that previous research had not addressed the potential effects of dose reduction protocols and utilization declines on cancer risk reduction.
The researchers examined data for both Medicare and non-Medicare patients treated at the hospital on an inpatient basis in the calendar years 2008 to 2012. They examined reimbursement codes for CT scans of four regions: the abdomen and pelvis, head, sinus, and lumbar spine.
To assess the effectiveness of dose reduction strategies, they calculated the average dose-length product (DLP) in 2010 and 2012 (the hospital implemented its dose reduction program in 2011). The group used a sample of patients for each anatomical region and extrapolated the averages to all the patients scanned for that area at the hospital during the study periods.
Finally, the researchers calculated cancer incidence for both the preintervention and postintervention periods based on data from the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII report. They divided the estimates into three anatomical regions (estimates were not made for sinus CT due to a small sample size of patients).
They found that overall CT volume grew 21% from 2008 to 2010 and fell by 30% from 2010 to 2012, for a net decline of 15% over the study period. Other changes are shown in the table below. [table in original article]………
Finally, the researchers applied BEIR VII data to calculate how many fewer cancers might develop if all patients were scanned at the lower levels. This translated into an estimated decline of induced cancers from 10.1 cases in 2010 to 3.8 cases in 2012, and a drop in resulting mortalities from 5.1 individuals to 1.9 individuals……….http://www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=ser&sub=def&pag=dis&ItemID=107954
The Environmental Protection Agency – the overseers of the suspiciously on-again/off-again RadNet monitoring system in the wake of the 2011 mass meltdown/blow-outs at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power station – has helpfully extended the public comment period on its proposed “update” to 40CFR.190, “Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations.”
Citizens now have until August 4th to submit their comments on exposure limits, dose calculations, new fuel cycle technologies and related topics.
The EPA is seeking public comment and information that they may or may not use for planned updates to the old rules for Environmental Radiation Protection issued in 1977, ostensibly to make them easier to understand and implement. Given how often the public is treated to professions of ignorance from the nuclear industry (such as, “we don’t know how to measure beta radiation levels!” when caught disseminating blatantly false data), this could be a good thing. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission [NRC] is responsible for implementing and enforcing the standards established by the EPA, and we have watched with some jaded dismay as NRC has steadily abdicated its responsibilities, entrusting them to the utilities it’s supposed to be regulating. Utilities now enjoy little to no oversight or auditing of their monitoring or records, and requirements for public notification and protection (like evacuation of nearby residents if releases reach certain levels) have been demonstrated pointless because they are routinely ignoredPerhaps if EPA can tweak its rules so that even the NRC can understand them, we could expect much better compliance all around……..
To help interested people who may be confused by the technical gobbledygook that frames the issues in the EPA’s documents, I am listing the issues here, offering an abbreviated look at EPA reasoning in presenting these issues for comment, and supplying my own responses to the questions EPA is posing to the public………
Issue 1: Consideration of a Risk Limit to protect individuals. Should the Agency express its limits for the purpose of this regulation in terms of radiation risk or radiation dose?
My Response to Issue 1:
Because both national and international radiation protection guidelines developed by non-governmental radiation experts such as the ICRP and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements recommend that radiation exposure standards be established in terms of dose to members of the public, the EPA should continue to base its limits on effective dose to members of the public.
Issue 2: Updated Dose Methodology (dosimetry). How should the Agency update the radiation dosimetry methodology incorporated in the standard?
Current limits on exposures to the public during normal operation are 25mr [millirems] whole body, 75mr to the thyroid, and 25mr to any other organ, over a year’s time. There are no effective limits on accident releases, and anyone who followed the disaster at Fukushima in 2011 will understand why. If releases during an accident/event are calculated to deliver a set level of exposure [dose] to any member of the public over the duration of the event, the requirement for evacuation kicks in.
In the end, and given the past record of deception by the industry and its regulators concerning public exposures to radiation, it probably doesn’t matter which methodology is used to calculate and/or estimate doses to the public during a serious accident, so long as requirements for evacuation of the public when a certain set dose level is reached remain in place. That dose level should remain equivalent to the one(s) now in place.
My Response to Issue 2:
If using a more sophisticated method of calculating and estimating doses/harm to the public will make the task of radiation protection easier, there is no reason not to do so. If EPA decides to go to ICRP’s more recent methodology it should use the ICRP methodology that exists at present  and not the one ICRP might eventually quantify. Utilities should not be exempted from requirements for evacuation plans and notifications, nor should the allowable doses to the public be raised.
Issue 3: Radionuclide Release Limits. The Agency has established individual limits for release of specific radionuclides of concern. Based on a concept known as collective dose, these standards limit the total discharge of these radionuclides to the environment. The Agency is seeking input on: Should the Agency retain the radionuclide release limits in an updated rule and, if so, what should the Agency use as the basis for any release limits?
The original EPA release limits (Final Environmental Statement, 1976) were based on the assumption that spent fuel reprocessing would be the one area of the total fuel cycle that would release the most radionuclides to the environment. In 2014 we know from long experience with serious accidents, meltdowns and exploding reactor plants that the generation facilities themselves have proven to be the worst offenders. We do not reprocess commercial spent fuel in this country, and haven’t done so since the 1970s. The government reprocessing facilities that do exist are notoriously filthy, as are fabrication facilities working with plutonium to make MOX fuels. Still, in overall environmental contamination, power plants suffering nasty oopses are right up there for consideration. And power plants suffering nasty oopses are not subject to radionuclide release limits because there is no way to stop those releases.
Now, however, we are looking at decommissioning aged and aging nuclear facilities, doing something with the accumulated tonnage of spent fuel waste, and applying release limitations to any/all new technologies that will come with future nuclear energy development (if that happens). Nuclear pollution from these activities must also be considered.
My Response to Issue 3:
EPA should continue to use the existing standards of limiting environmental burden as a guide, calculate and apply equivalent radionuclide standards for individual facilities at any stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. This need not be based on estimated doses to the wider public or to individual members of the public. It does need to be recalculated as necessary whenever weapon/accident releases occur to release very large amounts of radionuclides to the biosphere, with an eye to maintaining a biosphere-wide environmental burden limit for all dangerous long-lived isotopes.
If such an effort ends up reducing the allowable radionuclide releases from any type of nuclear facility at any point along the fuel cycle to a level that cannot be reasonably applied, then those facilities should be closed and decommissioned. Humanity should not be asked to tolerate the nuclear pollution of our planet to the point where everyone’s health and longevity are materially compromised. If that means the end of the nuclear industry itself, then that’s what it means.
Issue 4: Water Resource Protection. How should a revised rule protect water resources?
Ground and surface water are necessary resources for organic life forms and entire ecosystems. EPA says it wishes to prevent water contamination rather than have to clean it up after it’s polluted. This is great. Existing standards don’t impose water-specific standards because nuclear plants do not release what they consider to be significant radionuclides to water sources during normal operation, and any such releases have had far less impact on public health than airborne releases. There are some fluid effluent limits for specific radionuclides.
As the industry’s facilities have aged, however, water pollution issues have come to the fore. Tritium contamination of groundwater, aquifers, rivers and lakes has become more problematic. Unfortunately, there are no technologies in existence that can effectively remove tritium from water. EPA wishes to establish off-site water standards commensurate with the Clean Water Act, which has specific limitations on concentration of carcinogens.
My Response to Issue 4:
The basis of any new EPA ground and/or surface water standards should be the limits specified in the Clean Water Act, diminished by the concentration of pollutants that may already be present in the water source. The dirtier the ground/surface water already is, the less any nuclear facility will be allowed to release. If the allowance goes to zero, the facility must be closed and decommissioned.
Issue 5: Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste Storage. How, if at all, should a revised rule explicitly address storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste?……..
. The failure over the past 40 years to develop medium and long term spent fuel storage has turned operating nuclear plants into de facto storage facilities they were never designed to be. Government/industry agencies, commissions, industry think tanks and international bodies can recommend the development of medium and long term storage facilities all they like. Fact is if nobody’s building them, they flat don’t exist and recommendations accomplish exactly zip.
If it ever looks like such facilities may at long last come to be, then the EPA may have a regulatory role in limiting the amount of radioactive substances those facilities can be allowed to release in any form to the environment. …….
My Response to Issue 5:
The same limitations on releases to air and water from nuclear operations should be applied to on-site storage of spent fuel. There should also be a limitation on how much spent fuel can be stored in a single pool, as well as a time limit on how long it can stay there before being dry-casked. The industry should be forced to dry-cask all spent fuel in their pools that has been stored for 2 years or more. Any dry cask storage facilities on-site should have an area radiation limit to protect workers, and should not contribute at all to off-site radiation levels.
Issue 6: New Nuclear Technologies – What new technologies and practices have developed since 40CFR.190 was issued, and how should any revised rule address these advances and changes?……
My Response to Issue 6:
Reality is that there is no pressing need for the EPA to develop separate or differing limits for possible future nuclear technologies that are entirely unlikely to be deployed. If any of them ever are deployed, the existing (or revised) standards should be applicable to any new nuclear technologies. All applications involving nuclear fission should have to abide by the EPA protective regulations throughout the fuel cycle to limit harm to the general public, nuclear workers and the environment.
EPA should definitely develop and apply specific rules for MOX fuels as those are fabricated and used in power reactors. Plutonium is a dangerous radionuclide, as are other high energy alpha and beta emitters that occur during production, enrichment and fuel fabrication. Limits on levels and releases of these elements should be strict, and dutifully enforced.
Comments should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0689. Comments may be submitted in the following ways:
• www.regulations.gov: follow the on-line instructions.
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Fax: (202) 566-9744
• Mail: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations – Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Docket, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0689, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460. Please include two copies.
• Hand Delivery: In person or by courier, deliver to: EPA Docket Center, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20004. During Docket’s normal hours of operation. Please include two copies. http://enformable.com/2014/07/epa-wants-opinion-well/
12 Mainstream American Corporations Want More Renewable Energy Clean Technica, uly 17th, 2014 by Jake Richardson Just a couple of weeks ago, we reported that a number of mainstream American companies are saving about $1.1 billion a year by using renewable energy. Now, 12 prominent and very large corporations have combined their voices to say they want more renewables. Renewable energy might seem like a marginal part of American society, even something for ‘hippies,’ but if you believe that take a look at some of the companies that want more of it.
- General Motors
- Johnson & Johnson
- Proctor and Gamble
- No one would say any of these companies are ‘radical,’ so it seems that renewable energy, like solar and wind are definitely mainstream now. In other words, it’s not for ‘kooks,’ ‘granolas,’ ‘socialists,’ ‘treehuggers,’ or ‘vegans’.The twelve companies listed above are brands recognizable to almost any American. They are thoroughly mainstream and some are even part of American history. Take Johnson and Johnson, for example. This huge corporation was founded in 1886. Similarly, General Motors was founded in 1908. These two companies are part of American culture and have been around for over one hundred years……..http://cleantechnica.com/2014/07/17/12-mainstream-american-corporations-want-renewable-energy/
Emotional interview with Navy sailor suffering after Fukushima exposure: Others with same symptoms “told to be quiet… nobody’s heard from them” — Health is worsening, worried I’m going to die — Can’t really use legs or arms, hands ‘barely functional’ — Rashes all over body, spasms, shaking — Doctors tell us “it’s all psychological” (AUDIO) http://enenews.com/emotional-interview-navy-sailor-suffering-serious-illness-after-fukushima-exposure-others-same-symptoms-told-be-quiet-nobodys-heard-worry-about-dying-health-keeps-worsening-really-legs-arms-h?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Interview with Navy Lt. Steve Simmons who served on the USS Ronald Reagan for 3/11 relief mission, Nuclear Hotseat hosted by Libbe HaLevy, July 8, 2014 (emphasis added):
- 21:30 in — November 2011 I noticed something was wrong… The black-out was the first thing… I started dealing with gastrointestinal issues, at first I thought I was coming down with a stomach bug… Fevers as high as 102.9°F… January 2012 was the first time I was hospitalized… [They] sent me home with a sinus infection. Three days later I was readmitted to the hospital because my lymph nodes were swelling… that’s when my legs buckled and the muscle weakness started to onset… it’s been ascending from legs, trunk, arms, hands… I can’t really use the muscles much at all. I’m down to about 20 lbs. of grip strength in my hands, which is barely functional… I do have to catheterize every 4 hours in order to empty the bladder. The migraines still get worse. The fevers still come and go, and they keep calling it a fever of unknown origin. My vitamin D is in the gutter, they just keep calling it an unspecified vitamin D deficiency… 2nd degree burns on my legs just from being out in the sun for 3 or 4 hours… that had never been a concern. Nobody can figure it out. I’ve been getting these rashes that come and go; they’ll go up my arms, my neck, around my eyes, back, stomach, legs. I deal with tremors and spasms… I am [in a wheelchair]… There’s days I don’t even get out of bed… for a long time I thought I was the only one. I had no idea there were other individuals that were even sick or dealing with ailments… Doctors wouldn’t tell us anything… I’ve had doctors tell me maybe you’re better off not knowing what you’re dealing with… You can’t have over 100 or 200 people sick, and one who has died last April, and say there is absolutely no health risk.
- 35:00 in — Finding out that there’s more people that are sick, finding out there were some other individuals at Walter Reed [Hospital]… almost identical symptoms to what I was dealing with… they we’re told to be quiet, and next thing I know they’re, who knows where they’re at, nobody’s heard from them, nobody has seen them. I have a buddy at Walter Reed right now, whose going through the same exact thing, very similar to what I’m dealing with — maybe 6 months to a year behind on the symptoms… His wife would call my wife and my wife would explain what he could expect next and sure as anything that happens next… Him and I both had doctors who have actively tried to convince us that there’s physically nothing wrong and it’s all psychological… This is ridiculous… He’s also in a wheelchair and when he went to the clinic to get fitted for a wheelchair, this doctor told him that it’s all in his head, and he doesn’t need a wheelchair… This is uncalled for.
- 46:00 in — We now realize how bad it was… the worst disaster in history, then it’s time to acknowledge the fact that, yeah there is a problem, and there are going to be some effects on human life… If the worst case happens, and some more folks pass — I would have to be naive to think that nobody else is going to pass away from this — it’s only a matter of time before there’s more lives lost. I would be lying if I don’t think every day that I’m going to be next because of how bad my health keeps going downhill.
Sino-American rivalry: Energy consumption, nuclear energy and deadly nukes Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent scholar residing in İstanbul, with a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans and the Greater Middle East. He tweets at @theerimtanangle July 10, 2014“……….. not content with just matching Chinese commitment to fossil fuel imports and consumption by means of production, the Obama administration also “incentivizes oil, gas, and coal production overseas by providing billions of dollars in favorable financing each year to fossil fuel projects through its participation in multilateral development bank lending as well as bilateral financing through the US Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation … Since President Obama was elected, US financing of fossil fuel projects overseas through these international financial institutions has increased by 14 percent from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $4.7 billion in 2013, having declined from a peak of $6.3 billion in 2012.
Both global powerhouses thus appear to persist in gambling with the Earth’s future. In fact, American and Chinese willingness to continue playing with fire is also demonstrated by their actions in the field of nuclear energy and weapons. Some time ago, the award-winning journalist Ken Silverstein wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that the “Obama administration wants to seed the United States with pint-size nuclear reactors … The US Department of Energy said it would provide $217 million in matching funds over five years to [the private company] NuScale, which builds small, ready-made reactors that can be strung together”. These pint-size nuclear reactors would be added to the already existing “100 commercial nuclear power reactors [that] are licensed to operate at 62 sites in 31 States.”
Meanwhile, in China 20 nuclear power reactors are in operation, with a further 28 under construction, and even more about to start construction. The recent Fukushima disaster in Japan (11 March 2011) and the now-legendary Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine (26 April 1986) provide ample evidence that the mere principle of nuclear energy seems patently absurd: in order to boil water to operate some turbines, nuclear material is fused to produce high levels of energy (or heat) that is then put to use to boil water basically, or to put it in more formal words, as can be found on the website Three Mile Island (named after another famous nuclear mishap on 28 March 1979): the “only purpose of a nuclear power plant is to produce electricity. To produce electricity, a power plant needs a source of heat to boil water which becomes steam. The steam then turns a turbine, the turbine turns an electrical generator, and the generator produces electricity”. And the dangers of nuclear radiation are manifold, as explained by Dr. Helen Caldicott, the well-known Australian anti-nuclear advocate: “[n] dose of radiation is safe. Each dose received by the body is cumulative and adds to the risk of developing malignancy or genetic disease … Children are ten to twenty times more vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults. Females tend to be more sensitive compared to males, whilst fetuses and immuno-compromised patients are also extremely sensitive … High doses of radiation received from a nuclear meltdown or from a nuclear weapon explosion can cause acute radiation sickness, with alopecia, severe nausea, diarrhea and thrombocytopenia”.
All in all, the US and China seem well-matched in their dedication to endangering the continued existence of humanity on this earth: either by their use and propagation of fossil fuels leading to disastrous climate change. Or by sticking to nuclear energy as an alternative, which is a dangerous proposition to begin with, while the issue of the resultant nuclear waste material has not even been touched upon.
The military perspective
Even more ominous is the continued presence of nuclear arsenals in the US as well as in China. During the Cold War the US and the Soviet Union superpowers adhered to the principle of mutually assured destruction, which meant that the whole world was basically kept hostage to a game of chicken. Now that the Cold War is over, one would think that these nuclear warheads would finally be confined to the dustbin of history. Alas, nothing seems further from the truth, as the US still deploys about 2,000 strategic warheads, with even more in reserve.
Just the other day, the Associated Press (AP) released a timely report on America’s still-existing nuclear arsenal,http://rt.com/op-edge/171824-sino-american-rivalry-energy/
Sino-American rivalry: Energy consumption, nuclear energy and deadly nukes Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent scholar residing in İstanbul, with a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans and the Greater Middle East. He tweets at @theerimtanangle July 10, 2014
“………Just the other day, the Associated Press (AP) released a timely report on America’s still-existing nuclear arsenal, in which Robert Burns insightfully explained that the “nuclear missiles hidden in plain view across the prairies of northwest North Dakota reveal one reason why trouble keeps finding the nuclear Air Force. The ‘Big Sticks’, as some call the 60-foot-tall Minuteman 3 missiles, are just plain old. The Air Force asserts with pride that the missile system, more than 40 years old and designed during the Cold War to counter the now-defunct Soviet Union, is safe and secure. None has ever been used in combat or launched accidentally. But it also admits to fraying at the edges: time-worn command posts, corroded launch silos, failing support equipment and an emergency-response helicopter fleet so antiquated that a replacement was deemed ‘critical’ years ago. The Minuteman is no ordinary weapon. The business end of the missile can deliver mass destruction across the globe as quickly as you could have a pizza delivered to your doorstep.”Even as the Minuteman has been updated over the years and remains ready for launch on short notice, the items that support it have grown old, Burns also writes.
In 2012, Michelle Spencer, Aadina Ludin and Heather Nelson compiled a troubling report for the USAF Counterproliferation Center. The report’s title illustrates just how dangerous these remnants from the Cold War on US soil today are: The Unauthorized Movement of Nuclear Weapons and Mistaken Shipment of Classified Missile Components. The authors present a narrative of frolic and detour that is unsettling to say the least: “[o]n August 31, 2007, a US Air Force B-52 plane with the call sign ―Doom 99‖ took off from Minot Air Force Base (AFB), North Dakota, inadvertently loaded with six Advanced Cruise Missiles loaded with nuclear warheads and flew to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. After landing, Doom 99‖ sat on the tarmac at Barksdale unguarded for nine hours before the nuclear weapons were discovered… While the Air Force was reeling from the investigations of the unauthorized movement of nuclear weapons, it was revealed that Taiwan had received classified forward sections of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile rather than the helicopter batteries it had ordered from the US, bringing to light a second nuclear-related incident”. Particularly, the phrase “inadvertently loaded with six Advanced Cruise Missiles loaded with nuclear warheads” should make everyone’s blood boil.
In contrast, the up-and-coming superpower of the 21st century China does not seem to dispose of such a wide array of technical and/or other difficulties besetting its nuclear arsenal. In 2011, the Washington Post ran a story indicating that the Chinese (or rather the CCP) constructed “a vast network of tunnels designed to hide their country’s increasingly sophisticated missile and nuclear arsenal”, called the“Underground Great Wall”. An associate professor of strategy at the US Naval War College, James Holmes, then, writes that in “March 2008, China’s state-run CCTV network broke the news about a 5,000 kilometer network of hardened tunnels built to house the Chinese Second Artillery Corps’s increasingly modern force of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. Tunneling evidently commenced in 1995. Located in, or rather under, mountainous districts of Hebei Province, in northern China, the facility is reportedly hundreds of meters deep”
In the end, the US as the only nation to have ever exploded a nuclear device during wartime appears to be experiencing difficulties managing its now-aging stockpile of nuclear warheads. While China, on the other hand, seems to have devised a novel way of controlling its own nuclear arsenal. In a way, these two different stories of nuclear arms’ storage could be understood as a metaphor for the waning and the rising of fortunes … Does the dragon ascend to ever-loftier heights as the eagle is slowly touching down? Will the ongoing yet somewhat unseen rivalry between Obama’s America and Xi Jinping’s China determine the course of humanity in the coming year or will the large-scale food shortages expected by 2050 combined with the ill-effects of climate change make the continuation of such competitions utterly futile and pointless? http://rt.com/op-edge/171824-sino-american-rivalry-energy/
California Newspaper: Health effects in U.S. from Fukushima radiation? Stanford Professor: “Am I concerned? Yes I am, that’s because I know radiation … there’s increased risk … avoid radiation as much as you can” — UC Berkeley Nuclear Prof: “Everyone is really scared of it … that’s what the big problem is” http://enenews.com/california-paper-fukushima-plume-health-effects-stanford-expert-concerned-because-radiation-pretty-increased-risk-uc-berkeley-nuclear-prof-everyone-really-scared
La Jolla Light (Calif. Newspaper), July 9, 2014: Scientists weigh-in on status of radioactive waters from Fukushima reaching California coast [...] the potential health effects cut to the heart of the contemporary scientific debate on the biological consequences of low-level radiation. [...] Experts project the radioactivity will be [...] two-to-20 times greater than the residual radiation already in the Pacific from the nuclear weapons tests [...] Bottom line? So what is the risk of swimming, surfing and splashing about in the low-level radioactive waters?
Dr. Herbert Abrams, Harvard and Stanford University professor of radiology & principal researcher for the National Research Council’s study ‘Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation’ who testified before Congress about its conclusions: “The underlying premise that has to be considered as you talk about radioactivity, the water and people being exposed to it, is that the effects of radiation are cumulative [...] what is the turning point? [...] common sense is to avoid radiation as much as you can.” [...] With the radiation from Fukushima predicted to [linger here for years] Abrams said the potential dose should not be dismissed as negligible. “Am I concerned? Yes I am. And that’s because I know radiation pretty well [...] It shakes up the cell and it goes after the genetic material … The bottom line is that (radiation) is a carcinogenic agent [...] there is increased risk. But how do you translate that into an understandable discussion of what’s going to happen to guys on their surfboards? I don’t know.” [...] Abrams issues his own warning about those scientists declaring the low-level radiation to be absolutely “safe” [...] “Physicists, or at least some of them, are the people in the nuclear industry itself. They play down (the risks) at such low doses, but they never talk about it as being cumulative.”
Prof. Kai Vetter, UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Dept.: “People don’t understand nuclear radiation and the impact [...] Everyone is really scared of it [...] It should not pose any health risk on swimmers, divers, people on the beach. [...] The psychological stress and psychological impact which might actually cause health effects, we should never underestimate that [...] that’s really what the big problem is, because there’s a lot of fear. There are a lot claims out there to increase the fear. From my perspective, it is completely unjustified and irresponsible to claim all the effects because that will just cause more and more fear in the public, which is probably the biggest impact. [...] In a way, we feel as a journalist. We see ourselves really as [doing a] service to the community.”
Dr. Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: “A lot of people are dismissive of it because it’s so low, and that’s not a good thing to do because radiation can kill [...] t doesn’t necessarily mean it’s at harmful levels [...] We know it’s out there and we know it’s moving slowly across [...] Any additional radioactivity can cause an increase in risk. [...] when no one makes measurements, then people will get more worried [...] We’re looking for agencies to step up [...] we’re not getting any success with places like NOAA or the Department of Energy and that’s too bad. I think they have some responsibility.”
See also: Medical Professor: “We really don’t know the extent of the ionizing radiation that’s going to be reaching us [from Fukushima]; we are just watching the West Coast unfold — There is no safe level”
Watchdogs Press U.S. on Risks of Uranium-Processing Revamp http://www.nationaljournal.com/global-security-newswire/watchdogs-press-u-s-on-risks-of-uranium-processing-revamp-20140711 By Diane Barnes Activists are urging Washington to study possible risks from a plan for dispersing bomb-uranium activities that previously were to be housed in a single facility.
A coalition of more than 30 watchdog groups on Thursday said the Energy Department’s nuclear-weapons agency is required by law to develop a new “site-wide environmental impact statement” for the proposal, devised this year by an independent “Red Team” as an alternative to the Uranium Processing Facility project in Tennessee.
The “UPF” effort faced years of delays, as design expenses mounted and cost estimates ballooned by billions of dollars. Substantial construction at the Y-12 National Security Complex ultimately never began.
The U.S. atomic agency last month said it plans to follow the “Red Team” guidelines, which advise using current Y-12 infrastructure to help contain costs and move onsite uranium operations out of the facility’s decades-old “9212″ structure. The alternative project reportedly is intended to cap costs at $6.5 billion.
The activists, though, implored Klotz to look beyond the independent recommendations devised this year.
“We urge you to take the time to fully investigate the range of possibilities, even beyond the Red Team’s recommendations, to set a course that will best serve the nation, not only by saving money, but by preparing to meet future mission requirements in the most effective and efficient way,” they wrote in the letter, first reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Wisconsin Reactor’s Demise Shows Nuclear Towns’ Plight Bloomberg News By Tim Jones July 08, 2014 “……..The Wisconsin facility is part of what Moody’s Investors Service describes as the largest wave of U.S.-based nuclear and coal electric-plant retirements in the past 35 years. The closings stem from abundant supplies of cheaper natural gas and changes in environmental policies. The consequences can be sudden and drastic, affecting school funding, real-estate values and economic development that were linked to the facilities.
Unlike abandoned industrial plants, which can be retooled for another manufacturer, nuclear plants leave another legacy: radioactive waste, which at the Kewaunee site sits in concrete canisters about 100 yards (91 meters) from Lake Michigan.
“The challenge that local officials have to face is large,” said Julie Beglin, one of the report’s co-authors……..
“It was cheaper to purchase energy on the open market than to produce it at Kewaunee,” said Mark Kanz, a company spokesman. “I’m sure it won’t be the last to close. There will be other plants that go through decommissioning, whether it’s economics or from equipment-related issues.”…….
While the economics of power generation can change, two factors work against the nuclear industry, said David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The cost of non-nuclear electricity is trending down,” Lochbaum said, “and the cost of maintaining aging nuclear power reactors is trending up.”……
Six Decades The aftermath of a nuclear power plant’s leaving a community is more complicated and lengthy than the end of a conventional industrial facility. Federal regulations governing the decommissioning of sites are designed to protect the public.
The process must be completed within 60 years, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Seventeen plants, including Kewaunee, are in some phase of decommissioning, the NRC said on its website…….http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-07-08/wisconsin-reactor-s-slow-motion-end-shows-nuclear-towns-plight
Environmental radiation releases spiked again in mid-June around the surface site of the only U.S. underground nuclear weapons waste storage facility near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The facility, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), has been shut down since February 14, when its isolation technology failed, releasing unsafe levels of Plutonium, Americium, and other radio-nuclides into the environment around the site.
Radiation levels in the underground storage area, 2,150 feet below the surface vary from near-normal to potentially lethal. At the time of the February accident, more than 20 WIPP workers suffered low level radioactive contamination, even though none of them were underground. WIPP assumes, but cannot confirm, that underground conditions have not changed since May 31, when the last entry team went into the mine, as reported by WIPP field manager Jose Franco on June 5:…….
What happened underground remains a mystery and a danger
More than five months after the February accident, officials still have no certain understanding of what went wrong. It is generally thought that one 55 gallon drum of waste (perhaps more than one) overheated and burst, spilling radioactive waste in a part of the storage area known as Panel 7, Room 7. This room, designated a “High Contamination Area,” measures 33 by 80 feet and presently has 24 rows of waste containers. The room holds 258 containers, tightly stacked and packed wall-to-wall, with no aisles to allow easy access. There is some clearance between the top of the stacks and the room’s ceiling.
The high contamination in Room 7 is a threat to human inspectors, limiting inspection of the room to date to mechanical means, primarily cameras on extension arms. As a result of these limitations, WIPP teams have inspected only ten of the 24 rows of waste containers in Room 7. Rows #1-14 have been out of reach of the available equipment.
WIPP has begun building a full scale replica of Room 7 above ground, to provide a realistic staging area in which to test methods of remote observationthat might reach the 14 uninspected rows………http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/07/radiation-releases-continue-from-nuclear-waste-isolation-project
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